UPDATE - ICS is not coming for Xperia Play
Sony have cancelled the latest official ICS upgrade due to gaming issues with Google's latest OS software.
QUOTE SONY MOBILE -
In regards to Xperia PLAY, after extensive in house testing with our developer teams and working with our partners, we have concluded that a consistent and stable experience, particularly with gaming, cannot be guaranteed for this smartphone on Ice Cream Sandwich – therefore, we will not make the Android 4.0 upgrade available for Xperia PLAY. This decision was also verified when we received similar feedback from the developer community; both experienced developers and advanced users, along with game content providers following our ICS beta ROM for unlocked Xperia PLAY smartphones.
Check out there site for more info as this is the last of the bad news you hear from us :(
Original Article Date - 23rd may 2012
We checked out a recently made page on the Sony Mobile UK website, which is a support page for the Ice Cream Sandwich update on the 2011 portfolio. It shows you the upcoming new features, instructions and troubleshooting. The most noticeable part of this page, is the list of devices planned to receive the update. In all previous communications about this update, the Xperia PLAY has been clearly listed. This time though... it is vacant. There is even a blank space below Xperia Arc S where it looks like it should have been. Is this Sony's soft way of announcing the Xperia PLAY will not be getting this update? Is it just an innocent mistake and the PLAY will be getting it's own page? Probably not folks... I think it's safe to take this is a hint. The Xperia PLAY will not be receiving the ICS Update.
So if our spider senses are right, then what might be the cause of this? Pretty much all of the 2011 range has the same hardware and specs, so what's different with the PLAY? We have our own theories, which we have gathered from our own testing of the official roms. We could be mistaking but it could be a combination of the lack of internal power but more importantly the game pad itself. One of the new features of ICS is to enable USB game pad inputs just like the Honeycombe tablets. So if you wanted to, you could plug in a USB controller to play games like GTA & Sonic the Hedgehog (amongst others). This is why we have a game pad symbol listed on our game reviews, to illustrate which games have this. I guess the theory is that Xperia PLAY game pad would be perfect for this, so games not PLAY optimised, would be if the PLAY pad worked like a USB controller. What we have found, is that this is not the case and the native USB game pad of ICS, does not work with the framework that Sony have written for the Xperia PLAY controller. Which causes multiple compatibility problems. There is definitely no way that developers that have programmed for Xperia PLAY are going to reprogramme again, so it's probably for the best.
Check out the Sony Mobile pages where we saw this information here.
We have been testing all sorts of different versions of ICS for Xperia PLAY since the concept arrived. in fact, our early bird review of the alpha ICS rom leak is a pretty big hit on YouTube. We posted that back in January and loads are still watching it. So as a phone, all of the official ICS roms have been amazing. I think all the improvements for ICS as an operating system is massively bias towards telephony and user interface improvements. These improvements eat more processing power and RAM, which we all know, the PLAY does not have a lot to spare. Below is our YouTube demo of the official Beta release of Ice Cream Sandwich running on the Xperia PLAY, you can still install this but only if you have a rooted device.
When Sony released the Beta for the ICS rom, they did say rather honestly that they were releasing it to gain feedback on game compatibility. We ourselves contributed with a few findings of issues, particularly with the analogue touch pads and especially with the Gameloft games. Even with the most basic of games, there was some issues. Let's take Grand Theft Auto 3, that game is so compatible with usb game pads, touch and the Xperia PLAY. This kinda worked for a bit, but then the lack of power on PLAY really started to show. You see, ICS takes up more power for all of the extra animations, functions and services like the multitasking tool. Whilst it's eating away at the available RAM, it's leaving less for high performance games like GTA and Dead space to perform.
So in summary and to sympathize with you dear readers. It is an absolute shame that Sony have been showing off to the world that their entire portfolio of last year is to get ICS. Now it is hugely possible, if our assumptions as well as the rumours are right, that ICS won't be coming to Xperia PLAY. It is frustrating but from what we have experienced, it is for the best. Gingerbread is a much better OS for gaming on the Xperia PLAY, it is very efficient and thorough thanks to sony's hard work. For the game pad to work as a USB controller natively to Android on ICS, there will have to be a whole new framework which will make the already optimised titles unplayable. Who knows, in the near future. Some clever genius might make the perfect custom rom. If that ever happens, rest assured the first website to write about it, would be here at XperiaGamer.com.